WASHINGTON — It could hardly have been a more perfect storm, and it was all because of a single question in a routine briefing.
On Feb. 19, U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for military operations in the Middle East, gave reporters a standard background briefing about the ongoing campaign against the Islamic State. The official who conducted the briefing responded to one question with a discussion of a particularly sensitive part of the campaign: the U.S.-led coalition’s plans to take back Mosul, a key Iraqi city that the Islamic Statecaptured in a shocking victory last summer. The official indicated that 20,000 or more Iraqi troops would ideally start the Mosul offensive in April 2015.
Opponents of the Obama administration screamed too. “Never in our memory,”hawkish Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wrote to President Barack Obama the day after the briefing, “can we recall an instance in which our military has knowingly briefed our own war plans to our enemies.”
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